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December 6, 2023

Here are some takeaways from the Mainebiz Breakfast Forum in Bangor

Seated speakers on stage Photo / Alexis Wells Deb Neuman, president and CEO of the Bangor Regional Chamber of Commerce, left, was joined at the Mainebiz Bangor breakfast forum by Dannel Malloy, Matthew McHatten, Shirar Patterson, Mary Prybylo, Lisa Sockabasin and Tim Winkeler.

From tips on communication to advice on love, six Maine business and nonprofit leaders at a Mainebiz forum on Wednesday shared lessons they've learned in their professional lives.

The event covered “60 ideas in 60 minutes” in a panel discussion moderated by Deb Neuman, president and CEO of the Bangor Regional Chamber of Commerce.

In her introductory remarks, Neuman said she guaranteed that attendees would leave with “wonderful nuggets for ideas.”

This year's group represented a range of industries, from health care to higher education, from insurance to automotive service. The panelists brought their ideas to life using personal anecdotes and observations — for example, about the pros and cons of Christmas music.

Around 130 people attended the morning event, which took place at the Hilton Garden Inn in Bangor. Here are some highlights from the conversation.

‘Lean in with love’

Lisa Sockabasin, co-CEO of Wabanaki Public Health and Wellness, a health organization serving four tribal communities, believes businesses don't talk enough about love.

“At Wabanaki Public Health and Wellness we talk about love every day. We need to talk about love more. Instead of calling people out, love more.”

Sockabasin also said that her organization is thinking far ahead, by considering its impact on generations it will never meet. Sockabasin was honored on the Mainebiz Next List in 2021. 

‘Shut up and listen’

To be the best listener in every room, Tim Winkeler, president and CEO of VIP Tires & Service, suggests leaders listen to others. 

“We have all of these experiences but we have to shut that off and listen so that a person doesn't feel like they weren’t heard after a meeting with you,” said Winkeler. “Sometimes you need to just shut up and listen.” 

Winkeler also said that leaders should be more enthusiastic.

“More people are attracted to and inspired by positive people,” he said. “Be enthusiastic about the business and the future.”

‘Be more curious than right’

“Try to stay curious and ask questions before passing judgment,” said Shirar Patterson, president and CEO of Heart of Maine United Way. 

Patterson has a long history of bringing people and communities together. After the COVID-19 pandemic, her organization helped erect the famed “Hopeful” signs created by Portland artist Charlie Hewitt. The organization realized it needed to inspire hope during an uncertain time, and today the signs are visible in many locations throughout Maine.


Dannel P. Malloy, chancellor of the University of Maine System, said that communicating with a team empowers them to be leaders in their own way.

“You are not going to have a team if you don’t communicate,” he said. “I had to learn how to do this.”

“I make sure to say hello to everyone in the building. I feel like it sets the tone for the day,” he said. Malloy also suggested sharing thoughts and ideas and then asking employees for theirs.

‘View delegation as giving a gift’

Delegating is not a burden. It is a gift, according to Matt McHatten, president and CEO of MMG  Insurance. 

McHatten noted that it's difficult to delegate; people are busy and you don’t want to overburden.

“Sometimes its easier to do it yourself or you don’t [want to] burden your team,” he said.

‘Don’t be a topper’

Mary Prybylo, a health care executive with Covenant Health, St. Joseph Healthcare and Community Care Partnership of Maine, urged businesspeople to give time to make sure others are heard. “Don’t be a topper because someone is trying to share information. Don’t try to top their story with your own.”

Prybylo also said to be careful of the stories you create. 

“We had a snowstorm in Bangor and someone said to me, ‘Make sure you put salt out’ and it made me upset because I know to put salt down,” said Prybylo. “We get snow here. But he was probably just trying to be helpful. So be careful of the stories you create.” 

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